PLYMOUTH COUNTY – They are not millionaires. They are hard-working, middle-class people. Some are elderly and retired. Some are embarrassed they got ripped off. Others just don’t want to see anybody else get victimized. One senior citizen allegedly lost $14,000 in the scam.
But even those who lost considerably less feel no less victimized by Matthew Will, 37, a Halifax roofer who has, over the course of about a year, taken deposits from at least 17 customers, sometimes for work-in-full, only not to perform the work he promised. He was in Plymouth District Court Wednesday, Nov. 7, for a pre-trial conference.
From Kingston to Hanson and Halifax to Middleborough, reports have been coming in about Will. Some say he didn’t even start the work he promised.
The Plymouth District Court charges stem from Hanson and Kingston Police complaints with two felony counts of larceny over $1,200 by false pretense and one count of larceny over $1,200 pending.
In Wareham District Court, he faces charges including at least 15 felony counts of larceny over $250 by false pretense, with at least two other cases pending there for which he has not yet been arraigned.
Police reports allude to Halifax charges as well, but police were not able to provide information as of press time.
In Hanson, police allege Will victimized Carrie Barnes and Jason O’Sullivan, a server and an ironworker who recently moved into their Phillips Street home over the summer and needed a new roof. On July 26, they hired Will, who they say came highly recommended.
“I did my homework [on him],” said O’Sullivan, echoing the sentiments of other victims.
They signed a contract with Will, and they say they had a verbal agreement for him to start the work the first week in July. They gave him two checks, one for $4,250 as a deposit and another for $4,250 for materials.
After giving him the checks, Barnes and O’Sullivan say they never saw Will again. Their interactions were exclusively by text message and phone.
As the texts went on over the course of the next few weeks, Barnes and O’Sullivan asked Will again and again why he has not started the work.
His excuses were heat, rain, “problems with the guys” and anxiety among others.
On July 17, he stated that he would be starting work the next morning. He did not show up. About a week later, O’Sullivan discovered that Will had not even obtained a building permit.
By July 31, Barnes went to the Hudson Street, Halifax, address where the business is listed, attempting to locate Will. That address is his mother’s house, say police reports, and it is unknown if Will lives there, according to court documents. Some court documents list the Halifax address, while an arresting document lists a Pembroke address for him.
At this point, Barnes texted she wanted her money back, but Will pressured her to let him finish the job.
“I did not write a deadline on your contract…” he texted as he asked to finish the job nearly five weeks after accepting it. “It’s not just me you’ll be hurting I have…young kids[.] [P]lease just hang in there I’ll be getting to you soon enough!!!!”
Barnes responded, “We are done going back and forth, are you going to give us our money back? [T]hat is what we want period. It might not be written in the contract[,] but we agreed verbally it would be done [i]mmediately[.]…We have given you more than enough time. We keep asking for our money back and you are refusing. If anyone is hurting [your young] kids it is you.”
Finally, after admittedly being quite patient, Barnes and O’Sullivan went to police.
“Nothing could make this right,” says Barnes about Will. “My family is just as important as his is,” she added.
Their roof has only been patched, to get through the recent rain. O’Sullivan says he doesn’t know if the patch will last the winter.
“Screw my embarrassment [about losing money],” said Barnes. “I don’t want anyone else to be taken advantage of.”
In Middleborough, at the Oak Point 55-plus community, reports state that Will had worked there for a few years without incident, but that the general manager of the complex thought that Will’s licenses may have expired. Records indicate police became aware of a situation similar to that in Hanson as early as May, only much larger, according to an email between the Middleborough Building Inspector, Robert Whalen, and a Middleborough detective.
Will’s CSL and HIC licenses were indeed expired for a time, police reports indicate, but he renewed them. He was receiving five permits from the town at a time in late May as Will said he had over 30 open jobs in Oak Point alone at that time.
Residents had to be warned not to put down more than 1/3 deposit, as required by law, said the report. “At this point, Robert [the building inspector] is on top of this issue as he wants all the roofs to be fixed instead of criminal charges and Matt [Will] is completing the jobs.”
Despite weeks of dealing with this as a civil matter, jobs were not getting completed while Will was working in other towns and had disappeared from Middleborough. Criminal charges were finally filed by Middleborough Police in August. The report tells of 18 outstanding jobs in town, Will completed only three and 15 residents had given money to him in April, May and June and no work had been completed for any of them.
Those 15 alleged victims lost from $2,500 to $14,000 and range in age from 70 to 86 years old.
By the time police caught up with him, he had moved on to another couple in Kingston, who declined to be interviewed.
Police reports indicate a similar story, though. By Aug. 8, when they issued their complaint, Kingston Police say that Middleborough and Hanson Police both had warrants out for Will.
The roofer, whose website advertises high quality for low prices, says he installs roofing, siding, gutters, decks, and does home improvement and maintenance, additions, solar ventilation and ridge vent installation. He offers a lifetime guarantee on his work, according to the site.
Will could not be reached by email or phone for comment. He is represented by Plymouth-based attorney Jack Atwood.
He will next be in Wareham District Court for an arraignment on additional charges Friday, Dec. 7, at 9 a.m. and will have another hearing in Plymouth District Court on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 9 a.m.